Recently, I was given some insight into how radically some people are reacting to the pandemic. We’re all sick of it and over it and longing to get back to a life that’s as normal as possible. But there are those for whom this crisis is almost intolerable. It goes beyond their jobs and incomes to the core of their mental health.
I was in LifeLabs for a 2-hour Glucose Challenge test. The title makes it sound like an adventure. You fast for 12 hours, get blood drawn, and then drink a bottle of awful liquid that tastes like battery acid with too much artificial sweetener. They take your blood three more times over the course of two hours. I didn’t know until later that t’s usually conducted on pregnant women. That little nugget of info would have been helpful before a nurse asked whether I was expecting, causing me to reconsider my outfit. Anyway, the results show how my body responds to sugar. (That will be the topic of a future blog post.)
They made me comfortable at station #3 and I was told I could either stay or go out to my car between needles. I chose the padded chair and read my Kobo. (Bryan Cranston’s autobiography, A Life in Parts – fascinating!) My nurse, Kim, was wonderful. In fact, everyone was cheerful and friendly. I was barked at and everyone was miserable a few months ago at a different location . This was a welcome change.
ME: I don’t know how you guys do it. You’re all so friendly and nice despite everything you must be seeing.
KIM: We keep each others’ spirits up. It’s a good team here.
Work culture is so important, isn’t it? Then she told me about a few recent patients.
One was a hysterical teenage girl coming in for a routine blood test. She was terrified of getting COVID and started having a panic attack. Before she could be signed in, she turned and ran. A nurse behind the counter said, “Stay! We can help you!”! But the girl ran out the door and down the hallway. She fainted mid-stride and her head hit a metal door handle. They comforted her and called an ambulance to take the shaking, crying, bleeding girl to the ER.
That week an elderly man came in wearing two masks and keeping his hands in the air in surrender. He was in his 90s and deathly afraid of catching COVID, for obvious reasons. Completely petrified, he questioned everyone’s need to come near him. He didn’t want to sit in the chair and challenged every detail. Those are fresh gloves, right? When did you last sanitize this counter? Who used that tube before you?
In my view, being in a health care centre is probably safer than most spaces right now. They know the risks and base their response on science. But fear wins over logic and fear of dying overrides everything.
Then, of course, there are the pandemic-deniers. Hearing from a friend that her brother truly believes COVID is a hoax, still, even now, is upsetting for sure. He has children, for goodness sake. But I’m to the point where I don’t entertain their delusions. I just move on. When he has to be vaccinated to go to a concert, he’ll either get wise or get left behind. It’s survival of the fittest. It’s the girl with the gash in her head and the frightened old man who are the ones who need our help and attention.